Molecular Sciences Research Hub, Imperial College
The concrete façade, combined with the perforated cladding and triple glazed curtain walling on the Hub fuse together to outwardly portray what this innovative research facilities does on the inside.
Aukett Swanke chose Capisco’s CAP 55 finish for the Proteus SC perforated panels early in the design process because they were looking to complement the flat bare concrete façade and glazed elements.
The CAP 55 effect was hand applied by patination specialist Capisco, which gave the Proteus SC TECU Brass perforated panels an enhanced flow, feel and texture. The appearance of the perforated and patinated panels now changes depending on the level of sunlight and the angle at which they are viewed from. The end result is a strikingly beautifully aesthetic that appears to move and shimmer across the visually flat façade beneath.
The perforated panels seamlessly transition through the entrance glazing to form a striking feature within the atrium entrance. This creates an impressive solar composition, accentuated by spotlights, when visitors cast their eyes upwards.
“The contrast between the concrete, glass and patinated brass couldn’t be more complementary and, with it, pleasing to the eye,” said Elias Niazi, Design Principal at Aukett Swanke. “The visual outcomes on this project have exceeded expectations. The perforated patterns on the brass panels with artistic patinations add a sense of mystery and mirror the innovative research works carried out inside the building.
Elias Niazi, Design Principal explained: “We specified Proteus SC because we liked the wide panels of its TECU Brass perforated system, as well as the company’s ability to work with Capisco on what is a completely bespoke cladding solution.”
Proteus Facades, again working with Capisco to create a matching patinated finish, manufactured the window flashings for the Hub. Initially conceived as a simple window flashing, Proteus had to overcome a real technical challenge – the profile of the window reveal is a narrow box that tapers across the width to make it appear as though the window blends into the concrete.
The maximum depth of the window reveal was too large for traditional manufacturing processes and so a multi piece flashing design was developed which could be stud welded and bolted together. This avoided any distortions that would have resulted from traditional welding processes, whilst creating a bespoke element that could be easily installed on site.
Proteus Facades is able to supply the CAP 55 finish in either Brass or Bronze materials. The TECU Brass Proteus SC perforated panels were developed in conjunction with the supporting composite panel behind. These had a maximum capacity to support the perforated panels, with the required cavity zone, at 750mm centres. Proteus SC perforated hock on panel system was used, set off from the company’s 125x50mm mullion.
The perforated panels encompass a PPC black stainless steel bird mesh, carefully integrated into the back to ensure there was no visual impact to the panel face.
The Molecular Sciences Research Hub encompasses technical and laboratory areas clustered around a full height atrium. The striking new hub forms the centre piece of the Imperial West campus. Laing O’Rourke commenced construction works at the end of 2014 with completion in 2016. The façade was installed by its in-house team, Laing Facades.